Arabs accuse Kurds of exploiting war with ISIS to grab land

The Wall Street Journal reports: After U.S.-backed Kurdish forces drove Islamic State militants from the Iraqi city of Sinjar this month, some of the fighters involved began looting houses of Sunni Arabs suspected of ties to the extremist group.

A week later in the oil-rich region of Kirkuk, Kurdish fighters expelled about 60 Sunni Arab families who had remained in the ruins of one village, according to local officials and residents. They said it was one of more than 50 Arab villages razed or partially demolished by Kurds who recaptured them from Islamic State since July. The Kurds suspected some male relatives of the expelled families of fighting with the Sunni radicals of Islamic State.

Sunni Arab officials and residents in Iraq accuse Kurds of exploiting the war with Islamic State to grab land. In Syria as well, Sunni Arabs are either fleeing, being forced out or are blocked from returning to areas seized by Kurds or Iran-backed groups, according to residents and some of the Kurdish fighters themselves.

It is part of a broader shift in Iraq and Syria, where opponents of Islamic State such as Shiites and Kurds are claiming recaptured land and oil resources that have long been in dispute. These conquests are redrawing internal boundaries, displacing communities and deepening ethnic and sectarian tensions in the two increasingly fragmented countries. [Continue reading…]

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